Private clubs across Indiana are scrambling to comply with the statewide smoking ban due to take effect July 1st.
“We had to vote either make it smoking, or non-smoking here at the club by June 30th,” said Steve Pontius of the American Legion Post 308 in Osceola. “The vote had to be sent south down to Indy.”
The law lets club members (including VFW’s and American Legions) decide for themselves whether or not they want to allow smoking.
At American Legion Post 308, the vote meant members who all fought for their country—suddenly found themselves fighting with one another.
“You know, there’s a few people here and there they kind of, they’re upset, this, you know, because the vote went this way and they’re upset because they had to vote, you know, and it makes turmoil,” said Pontius.
A vote to continue to allow “Camels” at the post essentially meant kicking out kids. “Nobody knew for sure, I don’t think, I mean cause there’s a lot of kids that are young kids that are members of the auxiliary,” said member Dale Denham.
Steve Pontius adds “I’ve got eight grandkids and they can’t come in here, you know, I can’t bring them in here for a fish dinner, or anything, Christmas parties, nothing no more.”
At American Legion Post 308, the membership voted two to one to continue to allow smoking.
While the scenario is the same at all private clubs in Indiana—the results can be very different.
“As of July 1st, we’ll be going smoke free,” said Amy Salyer of the BK Club in Mishawaka.
At the BK Club, members were spared the anguish, as the board of directors made the decision to ban smoking.
“I think it'll be a little rough for us you know in the beginning you know, a lot of our members are smokers down here, we might lose a few people we might gain a few people,” said Salyer. “So we’ll have to see what happens.”
The decision is easier at some clubs that have separate bar and banquet facilities. That allows smoking to be banned in the bars, while smoke free banquet facilities could continue to cater to family events.